“The discovered vulnerabilities affect all modern security protocols of Wi-Fi, including the latest WPA3 specification. Even the original security protocol of Wi-Fi, called WEP, is affected. This means that several of the newly discovered design flaws have been part of Wi-Fi since its release in 1997! Fortunately, the design flaws are hard to abuse because doing so requires user interaction or is only possible when using uncommon network settings. As a result, in practice the biggest concern are the programming mistakes in Wi-Fi products since several of them are trivial to exploit.”

What’s a FragAttack?

The term ‘FragAttack’ refers to a group of vulnerabilities associated with data frames or packets, which attackers can exploit to steal information as it travels between networked devices or to completely take over a device, ranging from a simple IoT smart switch to an old laptop used for web browsing at home. Attackers can inject unwanted, unencrypted frames into a network, or exploit the way frames aggregate or disaggregate to inject and execute previously non-existent data.

However, as Vanhoef notes, an attacker would need to be within radio range of your network in order to cause chaos. That already limits your potential risk, as that’s simply not something you’re likely to experience at home or in your apartment (unless you have a sneaky neighbor).

Simple steps to protect yourself from FragAttacks

The best way to keep your network as safe as possible against FragAttack vulnerabilities is to keep your devices updated—and you’ll note this is the same advice we give everyone about every security vulnerability ever. Make sure your routers, smart devices, laptops, phones, or whatever else are all running the most up-to-date firmware and software updates you can find. If you’re lucky, your devices’ manufacturer will have a means for updating them automatically. Otherwise, you’ll need to make sure you’re checking on a regular interval (say, quarterly) for critical updates that can patch up vulnerabilities like these.

For example, Eero has already updated its routers to completely block any FragAttack-style vulnerabilities from being exploited:

“Many of the vulnerabilities discovered by the researchers do not affect eero networks due to a combination of custom changes to our networking software that we have made over the years. Additionally, eeroOS 6.2.1 and later includes a patch that will protect your network from the “FragAttacks (fragmentation and aggregation attacks)” vulnerabilities and is now available to all eero customers. You can tap the details of any of your eeros in the mobile app and trigger an OTA update if the version you are seeing isn’t 6.2.1 or newer in the Settings tab.”

Beyond that, make sure you’re using extensions like HTTPS Everywhere in your browser so you’re always connecting to secure websites (and that the data you’re passing through your devices can’t be intercepted). Additionally, I recommend manually setting a custom DNS in your router and/or devices to help thwart any attacks that attempt to reroute a device to a malicious DNS server.

Beyond that, don’t worry too much about it. Yes, these vulnerabilities are present in just about every networked device, but they’re (thankfully) obscure enough and hard enough to exploit (requiring just enough of a physical presence) that you should be fine as long as you’re staying on top of your security and updates—which you should be doing anyway.